PREMIER John Horgan has appointed Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, to lead the expansion and use of mass timber in B.C. buildings.
Horgan made the announcement in a call with representatives of the BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI).
“As our economy bounces back from the COVID-19 crisis, we want to do everything we can to support forest workers,” said Horgan. “By focusing on mass timber, we have an opportunity to transition the forestry sector to high-value over high-volume production. This will mean opportunities for local workers, strong partnerships with First Nations and greater economic opportunity while making a significant contribution to advancing CleanBC.”
Last year, government announced its intention to encourage the increased use of mass timber building products in its capital construction programs, particularly in the development of the new St. Paul’s Hospital and the replacement of the Royal BC Museum.
“These are high-value wood products that are shining examples of our government’s commitment to create jobs using our publicly owned natural resources,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “I’m confident that Ravi will hit the ground running and find even more opportunities to use this world-renowned product.”
In mass timber buildings, the primary load-bearing structure is made of solid or engineered wood. These buildings can be one-fifth the weight of comparable concrete buildings, while still meeting performance standards for safety, structural resilience and fire protection.
“British Columbia is a leader in the use of mass timber as an innovative way to reduce the carbon footprint of our building sector while supporting good jobs for people in communities across the province,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Ravi Kahlon is thoughtful and hard-working, and the right choice to grow new opportunities in this sector that will help us meet our CleanBC goals to build a cleaner, better future for everyone.”
As part of Kahlon’s new mandate, he will engage with local governments, industry and the construction sector. He will also work with Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and a new assistant deputy minister of mass timber implementation. As well, Kahlon will reach out to Michelle Mungall, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness, and Forest Innovations Investment Ltd. in their efforts to develop new markets for mass timber.
“Mass timber is key to diversifying and creating a more resilient forest sector,” said Kahlon. “I look forward to working with my government colleagues, COFI and the forest industry, construction sector and local governments to promote made-in-B.C. wood products and their use in our public and private sector buildings.”
Kahlon will create and chair a joint industry/government steering committee, which will meet semi-annually, to provide guidance and advice to the government’s efforts.
“Expanding the use of sustainably harvested, low-carbon wood products in B.C. buildings will help combat climate change and support getting people back to work in forestry-related jobs across the province,” said Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO, COFI. “We know that B.C. can become the ‘Harvard of green building,’ the place the world looks to for the next big idea on how to use our forest resources to support better choices for the planet.”
The government said this announcement builds on work announced by government last year, when 13 B.C. communities committed to adopting innovative and safe mass timber technology for taller wood buildings that are faster to build, better for the environment and create new jobs and opportunities for forest communities in the province.